I don’t know if he’s quit taking steroids — or what.
But head shaven, collar loose, Bernie Kerik looked shrunk at the White Plains courthouse as he was sentenced to four years in prison for being a self-absorbed jerk.
OK, that wasn’t the official charge. The court papers said tax fraud, lying to White House officials and eight other felony counts. But Bernie’s real sin was convincing himself that the rules that apply to other people do not apply to him. He figured his powerful godfather, Rudy Giuliani, would always be there to immunize him from the consequences.
So he turned the city jails and the police department into Bernie’s Own Clubhouse. He forgot to pay his taxes. He let mobsters renovate his condo. He was too wired, too pumped and too certain to care about some silly laws. When Bernie fell, he fell hard.
The four-year prison term was jacked up from the 27 to 33 months the lawyers agreed to in a plea deal. “With great power comes great responsibility and great consequences,” a somber Judge Stephen Robinson said. Now much of what Bernie had is gone. The high-profile positions.
The easy proximity to presidents. The gung-ho role in pacifying Iraq. The idea of Bernie as secretary of Homeland Security. The off-the-books nanny. The uncharitable charities. The five-figure speaking dates. The lucrative corporate security gigs. Even the East Side romps up Second Avenue.
For one last time, he packed a courtroom. A few of the old friends made the trip. Geraldo Rivera was there. As was Officer Steve McDonald in his wheelchair.
“Believe me when I say I have learned from this, and … will continue to become a better person,” the faded tough guy said in court.
The words were fine and predictable. But there was a notable absence that spoke louder than all the whispers in the courthouse.
As Bernie Kerik learned his fate, Rudy Giuliani was nowhere to be seen.
Category: In Print